17 Best Books on Ancient Egypt

Books On Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptian civilization is known for its remarkable achievements in art and architecture, statecraft, engineering and medicine. The great buildings in and around Cairo are testimony to the vibrant life that the Egyptians used to follow. The Egyptian civilization that flourished on the banks of Nile was among the earliest in world history.

The ancient Egyptians were a mysterious bunch of people. Archaeologists and historians have been studying their way of life for centuries. The whole world is fascinated by the pyramids, the Sphinx of Giza, the Rosetta Stone inscriptions and the bizarre traditions the Egyptians observed. No wonder, several books on ancient Egypt have since been written. Here are some of the most important books on Egyptian history.

1. The Orion Mystery

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Rudolf Gatenbrink, a German robotics engineer, discovered a sealed door in the Great Pyramid of Giza in 1993, which was left unopened for 4,500 years. British author and historian Adrian Gilbert, and Egyptian researcher Robert Bauval, used astronomical data to reveal that the pyramids were more than just tombs. They stated that the pyramids were erected to serve as a gateway to the stars. The London Sunday Times described The Orion Mystery: Unlocking the Secrets of the Pyramids, as an absorbing work of archaeological detection and is among the major books on ancient Egypt.


2. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt

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The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is widely considered as one of the best books on ancient Egypt. The book compiles fascinating information about the Egyptians with supporting historical facts. It covers some of the earliest masterpieces of art and architecture, and literature. Written by an expert team of Egyptologists and historians, the book covers 700,000 years of Egyptian civilization. Social patters and the distinctive Egyptian culture are carefully examined in this book.


3. Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt

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Egyptologist Emily Teeter vividly reconstructs practical aspects of the ancient Egyptian civilization. The text explores many issues like the rituals followed in the temples, people who served as priests, the attitude of Egyptians towards life and death, their communication with the dead, and similar things. It’s one of the best books on Egyptian history and Teeter carefully demystifies the ancient civilization. The Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt is richly illustrated and has been a bestseller since it was first published.


4. The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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First written and illustrated almost 3,300 years ago, The Egyptian Book of the Dead is perhaps the best-preserved and beautiful works of ancient religious and philosophical thoughts. Over the centuries, this book has become an integral part of world heritage, and is an artistic rendering of the mysteries of life and death. Its latest edition is available in full color with integrated English translation. It opens the doors to the one of the earliest world civilizations and even today is considered among the epochal books on ancient Egypt.


5. Breaking the Mirror of Heaven

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This one is another bestseller from Robert Bauval, coauthored by Egypt-born theoretician Ahmed Osman. It recalls the vandalism carried out on Egyptian antiquities and cultural suppression by foreign rulers. The book reveals the actual reason behind French conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt. Breaking the Mirrors of Heaven highlights the censorship of nonofficial Egyptian mythological books as well as new archaeological discoveries by the country’s later governments. The book explores several cycles of oppression in Egypt and the moments of resurrection.


Also Read: Top 13 Holy Books you must Read

6. The Message of the Sphinx

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The book is a riveting account of archeological and historical investigation by Robert Bauval and British writer and reporter Graham Hancock. The two authors present solid evidence to prove that the pyramids and the Giza monuments were constructed much before than it’s usually believed. The book highlights the conspiracy of various underground organizations and some Egyptology establishments to keep the secrets of the pyramids from coming out in the open. The Message of the Sphinx contains a large number of exclusive photos.


7. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

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In one landmark volume, senior academic and Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson tells the story of this epic civilization, right from the birth to the absorption into the Roman Empire. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt is the outcome of 40 years of exhaustive historical research. It offers readers a peek into a kingly world of pre-monetary economy. One of the most important and best books on ancient Egypt, it chronicles the life of ancient Egyptian icons like Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, and other pharaohs.


8. A History of Ancient Egypt

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Authored by senior professor of history Merc Van De Mieroop, the book outlines the major cultural and political events of the Egyptian civilization. A History of Ancient Egypt offers a chronological narrative, drawing from historical sources. It highlights the economic and social life of ancient Egyptians and offers an up-to-date survey of the country’s history. The book includes all the latest discoveries and is extremely easy to read. A History of Ancient Egypt is one of the most definitive accounts of the greatest civilizations ever.


9. Treasury of Egyptian Mythology

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This is one of the most important books on Ancient Egypt and its mythology. Published by the National Geographic, the book is narrated in a lyrical way. It’s a stunning tableau that covers all Egyptian myths, including the pharaohs, queens, and legendary creatures like Sphinx. Written by prominent historian and linguist Donna Jo Napoli, the book is a dramatic account of major tales from Egyptian mythology. The Treasury of Egyptian Mythology is richly illustrated and brings all characters to life.


10. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

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Worshiped for centuries, Egyptian gods and goddesses are among the most revered in all civilizations. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt examines the evolution, worshiping, and the decline of the deities, right from the minor ones like Tawaret and Bes, to the more powerful Ra and Amun. The book is now available in paperback with specially commissioned artwork and hundreds of other illustrations. It also includes pictures of imposing temple reliefs and lavish tomb paintings.


Also Read: 15 Facts about Ancient Egyptian Gods

11. The Complete Valley of the Kings

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This book brings together ancient Egyptian history, and art and archaeology in one incredible volume. Veteran Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves examines the Nile valley topography, the composition of the workforce, specific tomb sites, and the royal monuments erected for a pharaoh’s afterlife. History and archaeological facts come alive in The Complete Valley of the Kings. It highlights the pressing need to conserve the royal structures. The book has 532 illustrations, including 76 in color.


12. Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization

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A fully revised and updated edition of historian Barry J Kemp’s bestselling book, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization reflects the latest developments regarding Egyptology and its popular study. It covers the material culture of ancient Egypt, the economic and social standings, and the mindset of the country’s people. The latest edition has two new chapters that explores the final 10 centuries of ancient Egypt. It’s fully illustrated, impressively detailed, and is a handbook for students of ancient Egypt.


13. The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

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One of the greatest civilizations ever, ancient Egypt flourished on the banks of Nile, and for over 3,000 years was an example to the whole world, before it crumbled to the dust. Written by historian Elizabeth Payne, The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt chronicles the piecing together of the bits and pieces of the civilization by historians and reveals the life of the kings. It’s a gripping account of the ancient society and the times of the great civilization.


14. Reading Egyptian Art

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It’s one of the most exhaustive studies ever on Egyptian art and architecture. Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture, introduces the reader to the world of hieroglyphs, which was a directory of over 100 signs used in Egyptian sculpture and paintings. The book gives a comprehensive explanation of the major symbols used in Egyptian art, like the ‘lion’, ‘seated man’, or the ‘vulture’. Written by senior archeologist Richard H Wilkinson, the book is thematically arranged, cross-referenced, and finely illustrated.


15. The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt

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The ancient civilization comes alive in The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. The book is written by Richard H Wilkinson. It covers a comprehensive survey of all the ancient Egyptian temples, including Luxor, Karnak, and those on the Nile delta, oases and Nubka. The book traces the process of building these magnificent structures, how they were decorated, and how they functioned. That aside, the book researches on Egyptian rites and festivals.


16. The Complete Tutankhamun

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Interest in ancient Egyptian study got a shot in the arm, ever since British archaeologist Howard Carter, discovered the almost intact tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922. The Complete Tutankhamun narrates the story of the boy-king, describes his burial, the hunt for his tomb, the riches unearthed, and the legendary curse associated with the excavations. The Complete Tutankhamun is currently available in the first paperback edition and is one of the most popular books on ancient Egypt.


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17. Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass

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The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at Cairo, more popularly known as the Egyptian Museum, houses some of the most important treasures and fascinating objects of one of the greatest world civilizations. But this is for the first time that prominent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass has written an introduction for a book on the Egyptian Museum. The book compiles 200 exhibits as selected by Hawass himself. He writes about the significance of each of the chosen objects in this great book.


While there have been several books on ancient Egypt, these are some of the most authentic. Each of them is a great resource for students of the ancient civilization as well as those interested in popular history. What makes each of them more compelling is that they have been backed by years of extensive research.

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